I want the "whole-wall-of-tile" look in my little kitchen, but there are so many wood cabinets in different colors, a couple of windows, shelves, etc., that I'm pretty sure it will look like a mess. It's a mess right now, but what can I do to make it look open and airy, without a whole remodeling?

- P.L.

A: This sounds like a fun project; I also love the full wall of tile look, especially if it's stone. But what usually makes this idea feel so open and airy is that there aren't many cabinets on the wall, just a few open shelves. The problem is, most people need more storage than that offers, especially in a small kitchen.

Can you remove some of the mismatching shelves or cabinets, especially above counter height? Or rearrange the shelves so they are closer together or line up better? Or send some of your least-used items to a different storage place to reduce your space needs in the kitchen?

Even if you can't do tile everywhere, painting the rest of the cabinets, especially the upper cabinets, to coordinate with the tile will make the whole kitchen feel airy and open. If your lower cabinets are mismatched, too, consider painting those, even if it's a different color. Gray tones still are popular and look great with off-white and tile.

Get a paint that matches the base color of the tile you choose. Or experiment with paint that matches a darker grout for added interest. Ask for help at your local paint store for tips on choosing color, as well as how to prepare the cabinets.

Let me know how it goes; I can't wait to see how your project looks when you're finished.


Jennifer Adams is a designer, author, and TV personality.